Spring Cleaning ft. Toddlers

The following post is brought to you by The Honest Company with whom we have been customers since 1904. JK. They have only been around since 2012. Free trial for first-timers available, here.
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I wrote briefly about this months ago, but one of the great ways to keep Bo occupied in a way that makes everyone happy is to give her chores. When something spills I call on Bo to help me clean it up, vacuum, wipe the fingerprints off the TV, hold the dustpan, hold the broom, dust the piano, pick up the tiny pieces of broken doll furniture she just attempted to stand on to reach the glass candlesticks.

Occasionally a broom stick will end up in an eyeball or a three-week old carrot will end up in a mouth but for the most part, this has been not only a fantastic way to occupy my girl, but also... it makes cleaning more tolerable for me to have a buddy.

Deep cleaning is my least favorite domestic to-do. I'm all for organizing and neatening up but scrubbing bath tubs and cleaning windows and floors (Hal does most of that, actually, because I'm hopeless) is not exactly my strength. (Speaking of strength. The upper body strength of this one is otherwordly. Her muscles ripple like a gymnast. Is 2.5 too early to put a kid in Gymnastics? Anyone know of a place in LA that takes toddlers? Bo can stick a landing off a book shelf?)
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Moving on!

I am here, today, to write about spring cleaning as it applies to me and my associates/helpers who CAN and DO help me clean safely and effectively thanks to Honest and their non-toxic amonia-free supplies.
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Because what if they spray each other in the face accidentally on purpose?

I just laughed out loud while typing "what if" because Bo and Revi are like that scene in Zoolander when all the male models are spraying each other with gasoline. (They did this the other night with their sippy cups full of milk and regularly paint each other's hair.)
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P.S. This is what I use on apple slices in the kids' lunches so they do not brown. 

That said, toddlers seem to love helping. This is something I am quite sure they'll outgrow like their older siblings did. (Although Archer has become super into doing/ folding all the laundry and Fable is our official path sweeper outside, so... you know. That's cool.)
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Anyway, here are some games we/they have invented involving cleaning the house.

1. BasketToys: 

We play this game daily. And, yes, sometimes someone will get pegged with a Lego in the face because of a miss but for the most part this is the fastest (and most fun) way to clean an area overwhelmed with toys.

She shoots, she scores!

And then we all high five.

2. Spray it, Don't Say it

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Playing on the classic, "say it don't spray it," we have created a game that is SILENT and includes spraying. The rules are simple. We must try to be as quiet as we can while spraying the window/floors/wooden storage thingy that seems to attract smashed banana like it's its job.
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(Everyone ends up talking/losing the game within seconds.)
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3. Collect/Organize the Books so that we Can Read Them

This is kind of an ongoing game because books are always everywhere and the new thing is, "go find a book somewhere in the house and then we will read that book."

Last night we played "lets read all the books under the couch" and there were, like, SEVEN books under the couch and then it was 9:30pm because, well, there were seven books under the couch.

4. Cinderellaville
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This one was Fable's idea because Cinderella is her fave. Basically, everyone gets to be Cinderella except for one person who gets to play the "Evil Stepmother" wherein she does nothing but perch on her changing table and go "Ah ha ha ha!

In this example, it was Revi's job to be intimidating with her rather terrifying Pita bread.

5. Clean a Dish? Make a Wish
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Like throwing a penny into a fountain and making a wish, in this "game," you get to make a wish after every dish has been cleaned. I don't know if Bo and Revi quite understand what that means at the moment but it rhymes so it's fun to say out loud.
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... Not that I have to twist anyone's arm to wash a dish. At least a dozen dishes have perished this last year because Bo and Revi often sneak into the kitchen and wash all of the dishes themselves/drop them on the ground and go, "uh oh."
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What about you guys? Do you clean with your kids? Any tips on making it less tedious and more fun for the fam? 
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Eat Well: Just Add Flower

Last year my mom/WWW did a post about cooking with flowers, specifically flower sandwiches. Her post also includes a recipe for Nasturtium Pesto which is unbelievable and links to a resource of edible flowers that includes pansies, day lilies, carnations, jasmine, gardenias, marigolds and chives, which is what I purchased from our local farmer's market on Sunday.
I posted the above image on Instagram and later decided to follow up my photo/rant with a recipe post about cooking with flowers and include some links to my mom's posts about cooking with squash blossoms (my favorite) and nasturtiums as well as include a recipe of my own.
Nasturtium Pesto c/o WWW, recipe here
 IMG_6793 Flower Sandwich by: Fable recipe, here
IMG_6276 Squash Blossom Frittata recipe, here. 

And now for a little something I like to call, Mushrooms le Fleur because it sounds fancy and important.

Mushrooms le Fleur

- Assorted mushrooms (I used Shitake, White, Portobello and Chanterelle mushrooms) chopped
- 2 bundles of chives + their flowers (blossoms removed)
- 2 handfuls of arugula
- 4 large shallots
- (pre-made) quinoa
- white wine
- olive oil
- sea Salt/pepper
- egg if you eat eggs. (It's still really good without the egg.)


1. Heat your extra virgin olive oil in a skillet.
2. Throw in your shallots and mushrooms + a splash of wine. Let them cook about five minutes before...
3. Adding your chives + chive blossoms + another splash of wine
5. Cook another five minutes
6. Add your arulula + last splash of wine + salt & pepper.
7. While stirring your mushrooms, etc around the skillet, prepare a new skillet (turn on burner, pour some olive oil into it) and crack an egg or two or three (depending on how many people like eggs) right onto the skillet. Let the egg white cook until crispy but keep the yolk wet.
8. Pour quinoa onto plate. (One cup per serving or whatever looks right for you.)
9. If/when your mushrooms look done/ready to rock, pour them onto quinoa.
7. Add your egg on top.
8. And top with the fresh chive flowers you have not already cooked.
9. The end.


ED: Unfortunately, none of the kids would eat this delicious concoction of flavorful amazingness. Not even Bo who typically eats everything. Hal and I devoured our portions and the kids ended up eating scrambled eggs, plain quinoa and boring old carrots WTF. 

Still! This is an incredibly easy (super delicious) recipe for those of you who enjoy good food that is super quick + easy + good for you. And for all you Vegans in the house, here's what this saucy little dish looks like egg-free:
no egg Hope you dig! 



I may be especially emotional at the moment (Archer grew up overnight and I ... don't even... yeah) but this hit me so hard and in so many ways I had to share because holy shit, you guys. 

Beyond the patience Linklater must have had shooting over a twelve year span, watching the boy, his mother (Patricia Arquette) and his world change within a 1:46 trailer was a punch in the gut unlike anything "coming of age" I have ever seen. The wide-eyed innocence, the awkward stage, the sudden MANLINESS of the boy who... wait, weren't you just a boy?... one of the greatest songs ever... it's all there.

The pull I felt to this character is not unlike the pull I feel to many of the childhoods documented in this space, families I have been invested in for a decade or more.

At the end of the trailer, I knew this boy. He reminded me of mine, somehow, and I wondered if in a way, this is the way so many of you look at my children and see your own. It certainly is the way I look at many of the children I have witnessed grow up in this space. (I cry watching Leta on the piano because I remember when she was born. And I can't wait to see what she becomes.)

Everyone is so big all of a sudden, you know? But all it takes is a click here and a click there to relive the infancy, the toddlerhood, the first day of school... yesterday. It's overwhelming. Playing the moments back like a slideshow. Seeing the face and the posture and the attitude and the innocence... evolve, change, fade away into the oblivion of SHATTERED DREAMS OH MYHJAHDKJSAGH. 

Anyway, (as I go off on tangents as per usual) it's pretty exciting to witness such groundbreaking storytelling. I have watched this trailer a hundred times and it never loses its magic.

What a rollercoaster this parenthood thing is, eh? It's like going through childhood all over again except this time, for reasons I still can't quite wrap my head around, It means even more, it hurts even worse and it moves ten thousand times as fast.

also yesterday.


The First Book of ORE: The Foundry's Edge Author Interview + Giveaway


I first met Cam at a friend's 30th Birthday Party in Joshua Tree.  He was awesome then and is awesome now (Cameron hooked us up with Ashley and Brad, the animators we hired for The Grocery Store) and has worked as an animator and creative genius for many moons. (Cam's past credits include 
Team America: World Police & SpongeBob Squarepants.) 

Cam and his writing partner, Benny (past credits include a little-known show called The Simpsons), recently wrote a YA book together, the first in a trilogy, and Book One is now available in stores. It's called The First Book of Ore: The Foundry's Edge and here is its blurb: 

Phoebe Plumm has everything in the world except a friend. Her opulent Art Deco metropolis, Albright City, is full of spectacular, gleaming luxuries: rocket-fast Cable Bikes and ZipTrolleys, wondrous Televiewers and Computators, and a never-ending parade of streamlined mechanical innovations. All of it comes from The Foundry, a global corporation with a monopoly on technology where her father, Dr. Jules Plumm is Chief Surveyor. Phoebe's life in Meridian revolves around trading pranks with irksome Micah Tanner but when her father is abducted, Phoebe and Micah find themselves stranded in a stunning yet volatile world of living metal which they discover has been ruthlessly plundered by The Foundry for centuries. In this strange, mysterious and violent realm, Phoebe and Micah must fight to save Dr. Plumm, themselves ... and all creatures of good will. 

And now, without further ado, I am pleased to introduce you to Cam and Benny. This, my friends, is Cam:
Cam author photo
And this is Benny who I have not met but hear great things about:
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GGC: Congrats on the new book, guys! Can you tell us about it?

Cam & Benny: Thank you! This trilogy is our baby, one we've been developing and nurturing since 2006 - even older than our real and more damp children (Cam has a daughter of two and Benny has a daughter of three and a son of two months!) Our Middle Grade book is about a lonely girl called Phoebe Plumm who has everything in the world she could possibly want - except a friend. Her only companion is her father, who is unexpectedly captured and stolen away. Phoebe goes on a rescue mission to save her father, along with a rowdy servant boy she particularly despises called Micah, but soon the two kids find themselves stranded in a mysterious realm of living metal. As they figure out how to survive together, Phoebe and Micah stumble upon a secret that will change the world.

GGC: I love this. What inspired such a rich idea?

Cam & Benny:  In addition to being debut authors (still getting used to saying that), we are also stop-motion animators, which means we have a unique relationship with inanimate objects. Not like those people who fall in love with pavement or the Eiffel Tower, but more that we spend so much time imbuing pieces of foam and wire with life that we reflexively see a personality in all sorts of objects. Well, we started wondering about the history of the everyday things around us, like cars and phones. Who are they? Where did they come from? And that led to a stranger question still, which was - if these objects had once been alive, then how did they come to be inanimate and sitting on our desks? Out of that egg hatched our story.
Cam and Benny cartoon
GGC: Genius. What was it like writing it together as a team? What was your process like?

Cam & Benny:  Kind of like being married. Our spouses have affectionately dubbed us work-wives. There is a lot of disagreement and plenty of give and take. We make it work because we have compatible strengths as writers - Benny is better at braving the blank page faster and spilling out the first draft, and Cam's strength is in details and meticulous word choice. But where two minds are most valuable is in world-building and solving story problems. We attack each others' ideas to make sure they are watertight, all while trying to not get too precious along the way. Yet as with all relationships, especially creative ones, there are always fights. Our favorite was when we literally argued for twenty minutes about a single period.

GGC:  Which character in the book do you (both) most relate to and why?

Cam & Benny: There are two characters in our trilogy that are partners called Mr. Pynch and the Marquis, and we realized partway through writing them that they were actually us. Mr. Pynch is a squat little curmudgeon who has a good heart but can be a bit "prickly," while the Marquis is something of a busybody / walking slapstick machine. We'll let you decide who is who. And their relationship is eerily similar to ours - bickering and fighting much of the time, but all with a deep respect for one another, which proves them to not only be dependent, but inseparable.

GGC: What are your characters doing right this very second do you think?

Cam & Benny:  After what we put them through? Getting some sleep (which makes us jealous.) And they better rest up, knowing what's in store for them

GCC: I am equally jealous. This is the first book in a trilogy. Are you working on book two? Book three? Can you tell us a little about them or are they top secret?

Cam & Benny:  Indeed - we are deep in the mines of book two as we speak, in-between running around town and taking pictures of every copy of our book we can find on shelves. We have a thorough map for the rest of the series, while still leaving room for surprises once we are ready to walk every step of the next journey. But yes, over the next months we will be "crashing" book two, though we prefer the term "Evel Kniveling" since crashing sounds tragic. The books themselves? Actually quite top secret. But we can say that Phoebe and Micah both find themselves in positions they could have never expected, and ones they are certain they are not ready for. Beyond that, we can say that it's gonna get ca-razy… er.
High Rez Final Cover - Foundry's Edge
Cam and Benny have three signed copies of their book to give away. To win? Leave a comment below about something adventurous. I'll pick all winners at random next Monday. Good luck!


LilySarahGrace Fundraiser @ Milk Studios, Los Angeles (Please Come!)

The following is a guest post by my friend, Elizabeth who is once again co-hosting the 2nd Annual LA LilySarahGrace Fundraiser. I wrote about the fundraiser last year and attended with my family and while I won't be able to make it this year (I'll be in an airplane on my way home from Atlanta), I'm hoping that some of you can attend and will help us get the word out. It's an amazing event and a most important cause. With love to you and yours. - Bec
On Christmas Day 2011, in the midst of our pre-dawn Christmas morning mayhem of two young daughters tearing open gifts, a call came. My husband's voice became quiet, his affect and energy shifted so dramatically my stomach sank. I knew something dark had happened. Trying my best to be cheerful with our girls I heard the name Matt and in a matter of seconds I went through a list of possibilities of horrible things that had happened to our old friend, Matt. Never in my darkest thoughts, did it occur to me it was his children. All three girls, Lily 9 and twins Sarah and Grace 7, had been killed that morning by a tragic fire at their Connecticut home.

My friend Jenny and I turned to each other to try to wrap our heads around this incomprehensible tragedy. Jenny, also an old friend of Matt and Madonna Badger, is my soul sister. As moms Jenny and I wept for Madonna. These girls were our girls. How could we support Matt and Madonna through this incredible and unbearable loss? Believing firmly in the concept of taking village to raise a child, the same is true for grieving them.

With the help of trusted friends, Matt started a foundation to establish a legacy for his girls and a new-found purpose from his old life as a commercial director. The LilySarahGrace Fund supports the arts in underserved, underfunded public schools nationwide. Since these early days in 2012 Matt has distributed over 1 million dollars to schools for Arts-Infused projects to more than 1500 classrooms nationwide, affecting over 130,000 students across the U.S.

LSG has made incredible inroads in the CA area, organizing and financing over 400 classroom projects, and affecting more than 25,000 students in CA alone -making a huge difference in the lives of those students. All proceeds from the LA LSG Craft Fair on May 4 will go directly to schools in California.

The fund provides money directly to teachers for creative project based learning. The arts, our universal language, was the language the Badger girls understood best. They loved the arts and it was through the arts that they found a connection with others and equality. All three were dyslexic and they struggled. Through creative projects in the classroom barriers for learning are lifted, academic lessons become accessible and self esteem thrives. Matt knows there are so many kids out there who never have had an opportunity to express themselves creatively, to be understood and to feel equal. With the cuts in art programs in public schools, he felt this was a need his girls would love and so he has thrown his heart and soul into it.

On May 4 my dear friend Jennifer Levy and I will host The 2nd Annual Los Angeles LilySarahGrace Fund Craft Fair at Milk Studios in Hollywood at 844 Cole Ave .The event will take place from 11 am - 4 pm. It is a celebration of the lives of Lily, Sarah and Grace Badger and an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the children in our lives. There will be live music, dancing, food trucks, laughter, joy and vivacious creativity with 20 craft stations; snow globes, print making, spin art, pom-pom making, knitting, beading, glitter name tags and so much more. Amanda Demme, photographer, will be on hand to take portraits of children as Mother's Day gifts.

Ticket price is $35 per person, children under 2 are free. We will always keep Lily, Sarah and Grace Badger in our hearts and their creative vivacious spirits alive. This event is our living prayer for them and our gift to their parents in their memory. If you are in LA on Sunday, May 4th please come join us!!!! (Tickets are for sale, here.Thanks, everyone!

- Elizabeth -

How About We: Ballet + Bitters

The following post was brought to you by HowAboutWe, a dating site for married people. And also single people. But I am a married person so I took advantage of the married person portion of the website. (HowAboutWe hand selects/plans awesome dates/adventures/experiences for couples to pick and choose from. Genius.)
Ten years ago, this week, Hal and I made out for the first time. That is the G rated version of what went down. We had met earlier in the month but I had a boyfriend and frankly, I hated Hal's guts. No offense to him because he didn't like me either. Our disdain for each other upon first meeting is as close as I've ever come to love at first sight because the feelings we had? Were strong. What started as mutual hatred however, soon blossomed into friendship which then blossomed into a sexually tense friendship which them blossomed into a friends-with-benefits type of situation which then, well... I wrote a whole book about the unexpected pregnancy that resulted in... everything that now matters in my life. 

Hal and I never really dated. When we met, Hal lived in his friends' kitchen pantry and was working odd jobs to afford his rent/car payment/ramen noodles/cigarettes. In fact, the only date he ever took me on was to the 99 Cent Store to buy us each a bottle of Captain Morgan malt liquor and a DVD called "Six Lucky Ninja Kids" about, well, six lucky ninja kids. The day set us back a grand total of three dollars and was the most fun I had ever had on a "date" in my life. 

Screw the wine + dine. Here's a man who makes me roar with laughter. And then I was pregnant and it was like, well? At the very least, we will laugh a lot in this life. 

And we have

We do

We may not connect all of our dots all of the time but we are funny together. We make each other LOL a L-O-T.

Anyway. I was looking forward to this HowAboutWe for Couples post/experience because dating is something we seldom do. We are notorious for planning dates and then canceling them last minute because we have too much work to do and/or we are tired and the thought of getting dressed up and going to a place and sitting in a place is, like, UGH, you know? Which is terrible because we are desperately in need of some alone time. Ahem.

So, from the menu of potential dates in the HowAboutWe for Couples DateBook I chose the one that seemed the most... romantic. The one we would have likely never done if it wasn't for this post. And so? Earlier this month, Hal and I hit up the American Contemporary Ballet to watch a presentation on Dance, Choreography and Storytelling through movement which was not only romantic but fascinating and completely amazing, which made me realize that we need to go out more and when we do, plan dates OUTSIDE of our usual dinner + drinks + movie + band + play. There is so much to do in this city and so many things I want to learn more about.

And while we know pretty much everything there is to know about family activities, we know zilch about adult activities. We certainly knew nothing of the American Contemporary Ballet until now. And it's located blocks from our house, I MEAN!?

(Other dates that look awesome include this Absinthe Cocktails at Writers Room situation, a True Crime City Tour and Yoga Paddleboard class which is the most LA thing I have ever heard of in my life. In a good way. I love this town like a sister.)

Anyway… About our date...
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I wasn't able to get any photos of the dancers themselves  (no photography allowed) but here's a nice Prom Pose of the happy couple before the show:
IMG_3669 Photo by: Tamara who kindly snapped a few photos of us before the big dance

And here's Hal looking dapper, exploring a list of things "to do" and not "to do." Slurp is a curious choice but a welcome one, I suppose. Slurping's pretty cool. 
And here are the original performances of the dances we watched and learned about during the performance/lecture. (I've always been a huge Astaire fan and recently purchased tap shoes because I am a closeted aspiring tap dancer.)

And here's the DVD we got to take home as a souvenir of the lecture + dance. 
That was only part one of our date night extravaganza. Part two involves me not knowing anything there is to know about drink mixology and us in our pajamas experiencing an at-home Make Your Own Bitters date. I *thought* that we would make the bitters and then be able to drink them all in one night which was (ahem) NOT the case. SO. We did the first step, which was crushing, cooking and mixing the bitters and we have been doing the NEXT step for the past few weeks AKA shaking the mason jar once a day and placing it back in the cupboard. 
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We came up with our own concoction for our Halbecca mixture and it included vanilla, ground nutmeg and ground almonds...
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And then I poured/measured/sealed...
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And Hal shook, shook, shook.
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In a few more weeks, we will be able to finish our bitters and then, soon after, taste them, which I realize now is all part of the magic of the thing. Patience is a virtue. Time is part of the recipe along with the mixing-it-up and the shakeshakeshake and the grind. I hear that metaphor. Roger that, How About We. Roger that. 
Looking to get your date night on? HowAboutWe for Couples is in five cities so far: LA, NYC, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle. It’s free to join and you can get $50 off your first date by clicking here. And if you’re not in any of those five cities, there’s a national version with at-home dates, too (including the bitters date above… though the Halbecca recipe is all ours).

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